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I’m not strong.
No, really.
I’ve recently had some conversations with a couple of folks that tell me that how people perceive me is not how I feel.
If that makes any sense.
One mentioned to me in an email that it was a good thing I was strong.  The context was that I would need to be strong to handle a project we are both involved in.  While I responded that yes, I had my strong moments, inside I was thinking that strength was not what was needed in this project.
Compassion, unconditional love and firm boundary setting is needed, but not strength.  
Then I was discussing the same project with another person, who asked me, “did it even occur to you to be concerned about driving over the pass in the winter time?”

I paused, smiled, and said, “NO!”
She laughed and I laughed.  Because really, it didn’t.  And she knows me pretty well and respects me enough to ask about things rather than make an inaccurate judgment call.  And several other people have asked me about that as well.  They’ve got an excuse, they just met me.  But I’m puzzled.  I’ve got a 4-wheel drive pickup with snow tires.  And over 30 years experience living in and driving in snow.  Why on earth would I be concerned?
They see it as strength.  I see it as a natural outcome of a strong foundation in spiritual practice.  This practice results in me having an endurable and very capable connection with That Thing that is the true strength, the true power.  
No, I am not strong.  I’m just connected.
I’m not busy either.
I get that a lot.  “You’re so busy!”  The other day someone asked me how I did all the things I do.  I explained to her that I never did anything that wasn’t fun (I do, however, see a lot of things as fun) and never did anything I didn’t want to do.  And that I really wasn’t that busy.
Let’s face it, I get to do a lot of cool stuff.  Both professionally and personally.  I believe life is full and rich and should be experienced to the max.  Lived full on.  I love that Hunter S. Thompson quote: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow!’”
I like to proclaim “wow!” On a regular basis.  And WEEHAW!  And WOOGIE!  Because some years back I made a commitment to myself that I would not argue for my limitations.  This means I refuse to say no if it means experiencing another aspect of living life full on.
Do I have times when I must retreat and hide under the covers and lick my wounds?  You bet.  It’s called grief work.  It’s called forgiveness.  It’s called taking personal responsibility.  It’s called a lot of things and  we all have to do those things or we simply shrivel up into miserable old excuses for humanity.  Hateful, judgmental, suspicious, fearful.  Then we get sick and die.  I don’t want to live like that.  So I take care of my wounds, and then come out, once again living life full on, saying yes to what comes as a result of my spiritual practices.
No, I am not busy.  I’m just connected.  
And I also know that when we label others with descriptions like these, those descriptions speak more to ourselves than the people we are labeling.  
Just sayin’.
So, I do the work that ensures that I stay connected.  Then I say YES to life, and because of that connection, I know that all is well and all will continue to be well and that my YESSES are supported.

Our nos are supported too, by the way, but that’s a topic for another blog post.  

My latest purpose, passion, mission and vision statements. Do you have yours? Do you know what your purpose and mission in life is? Do you know what your passion is?

Today is an anniversary for me. It marks 5 years since becoming a Religious Science minister. They say that in order for something new to be born, one has to make room for it. This is the principle behind the decluttering movement. I always thought that I would be a photographer until the day I died. I’d be chasing babies and pets and families and ladies in white dresses with my camera, even if I had to hire someone to carry the equipment for me to do so. I did not realize it, but my soul was calling me to do and be something entirely different. I fought it. I became a Practitioner and was very happy there, with a teaching and coaching business. But soul said, “It isn’t enough. There is more!” And more stuff happened to make room for the new that wanted to be born. One mentor of mine called it a dismantling. I was not happy with the dismantling and complained and bitched and ranted about it every step of the way. It wasn’t just one loss, it was a series of them, and they kept coming at me over the space of about ten years, and I did the grieving process through out it all, with bargaining (maybe if I tried THIS it will work!), anger (at THEM), no small amount of depression, and finally, acceptance. It was almost impossible for me to deny the cold hard realities of what was happening so I didn’t do much of that. Today I live in a different place, both metaphorically and physically. I make my living in a different way, as a minister. I always thought photography would be my one passion in life, and it still is, but there is another. Did you know that there is always room for more love and passion? That passion is burning hot and strong, and I love it, and I am so grateful that I get to fulfill that passion. Recently I took a class, the first one since I graduated with a Masters Degree in Consciousness studies 5 years ago. In this class we got to do our personal mission and vision statements. I’ve always had a personal mission statement. This process expanded it a bit, and I discovered that my mission statement has changed a bit. Go figure! Life is good and very good and today I am grateful for all that has transpired, including the losses. And I am a glorious embodiment of Spirit, teaching others to be the same!

On this Memorial Day, it is rainy and cloudy and windy outside my home. Most likely snowing at the higher elevations. My cat is vacillating between climbing on me, purring and snuggling, and looking for trouble. He is still very kitten-ish, but beginning to show signs of adulthood with increasing times of purr-in-the-lap snuggles. I am preparing for two upcoming talks and a workshop. And basking in the glow of a great time of fellowship last night. I am now hosting a once a month pot luck in our new home, a practice I used to do when I lived at Tahoe, and last night about 15-20 people showed up with all sorts of wonderful things to eat. And we talked. We indulged in that ancient practice of breaking bread together. There is something magic that happens when we do that. Some sort of bonding, a creation of good relationship. We have only one thing in common, and many things not in common. Yet we break bread together and get along just fine. And I had a chance to practice something new in an interaction with someone. Instead of digging in my heels, claiming my rightness and judging the wrongness of the other person, I took some time to practice what I’ve been preaching for almost two years now. I’ve been preaching that we need a new way to communicate, a way that does not claim a side but instead seeks to find the common ground. A way that does not blame but instead seeks to find a solution to a problem. A way that does not make one of us wrong and one of us right, but instead seeks to find a compassionate way of viewing why the other person might have said or done what they did. I purposely sought all that. I fought through the layers of self righteousness and ego seeking rightness and superiority and anger that makes me feel powerful, but only for a little while before it turns into sickness. And I went deeper, into compassion and a common ground. And discovered that common ground. Turns out the other person wants the same thing I do: inclusion. No exclusion. And together we found a way to implement it. And this brings me to the explanation of my meme, because you know I just can’t post a meme without an explanation, right? One of my upcoming talks is about a deeper sort of prayer, the sort that gets things done. The powerful sort of prayer that all the great sages of the world used to heal, change conditions, and make life bearable. This goes way beyond a beseeching to an outside entity. This is the kind that changes our own minds. This is the kind of prayer that does indeed have the power to move mountains. This is the kind of prayer that has the power to eliminate all the sad, dismaying, hateful, judgmental shit that is going on in this world, and to replace it with love, compassion and hope. And it begins with each of us. It begins when we approach prayer with openmindedness and willingness to have our own minds be changed. To move from our own judgement and rightness and anger and into a way of being that embodies compassionate acceptance, a seeking of common ground and a releasing of that anger. I dream of living in a world that works for everyone. I happen to think it is possible. But only if we change our ways. And it begins inside each and every one of us, with a way of living that embodies a prayer that we be open and compassionate. Become what you wish to see and experience, and you will have learned the secret of powerful prayer.


I believe life was meant to be enjoyed.  You know that phrase in the Bible, where it says to be as a child?  I take that to heart.  No, I am not speaking of hanging on to immaturity.  I am speaking of enjoying life as children do.  They move through their days in awe and wonder and joy.  Sometimes I look at my life and the awe almost brings me to my knees.  I move through the day and appreciate the beauty of whatever is surrounding me.  I feel joy that I can do the things I like to do. A friend told me I could have fun inside a paper bag, and I can.  That is joy.  I have the ability to find the joy in anything because I have cultivated that joy.  But sometimes finding the joy becomes a bit difficult, and that’s what this post is about.  It’s about the reasons why you might also be finding it difficult to find the joy, and what to do about it. 
I know why it is difficult for me right now to feel the joy.  Let me see if I can explain it to you.  It has to do with a phenomenon called group consciousness.  This phenomenon states that since we are all connected, part of a great whole, the trend of our thinking will affect others, and their thinking will affect us.  I learned about this phenomenon while studying a spiritual and philosophical way of life called New Thought, which developed by this very phenomenon of group consciousness back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  All of a sudden people in separate parts of the world were all speaking and writing about the same concepts without ever connecting with each other. One of the concepts those early New Thought pioneers were speaking and writing about is Oneness.  They were convinced that we are all connected on very deep levels, part of a great One.  Ernest Holmes was one of those pioneers and created a New Thought teaching called Science of Mind.  It is one of several, and it just happens to be the one I follow and teach.  Ernest Holmes is the one who came up with the term group consciousness, but he isn’t the only one who has studied, and strived to prove, the concept.  Science has proved it.  I will never forget the excitement I felt when I took my first quantum physics class in grad school and discovered that what Holmes had been saying had been proven true by science.
Quantum physics is one of those sciences and they have proven it in repeated experiments.  If you don’t believe me, look up the observer effect.
Another item of proof:  you may have heard of the hundredth monkey effect.   Way back in the 1950s some scientists did a study and discovered that if a certain learned behavior reached 100 monkeys, all of a sudden that behavior jumped across the water and monkeys on nearby islands, who never had physical contact with the first group of monkeys, began doing the same behavior.
One more, this one from an author named Terry Patten, in his book called a New Republic of the Heart:  “The popularity of ideas like the “tipping point” or the hundredth-monkey stories are not simply tall tales. As already mentioned, Ken Wilber has pointed to the claim, rooted in the historical evidence of the late 1700s and the American Revolution, that when 10 percent of the population grows into a genuinely higher structure of consciousness, the nature of public agreements and power exchanges can be restructured according to a higher set of (postmonarchical, constitutional, democratic, meritocratic, free-enterprise) rules.”
Unfortunately, that phenomenon works both ways, higher consciousness and lower consciousness.  If 10% of the population is living a lower state of consciousness, guess what?  We are going to experience evidence of that.  Such evidence looks like anger, judgement, close mindedness, rigidity, polarity.
I believe we in America are in a lower state of consciousness right now, and those of us who are aware of such things and believe in group consciousness feel it.  
It may feel like grief.  I’m sure you’ve felt grief before.  All those things you feel when you experience a loss.  Things that Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified as stages of grief:  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I know I’ve felt all of these in the last couple of years.  I bounce around these feelings like one of those giant beach balls being tossed about by people who don’t seem to care where the ball lands or what, or who, it bounces off of.  
Now, you may be thinking that this all sounds sort of victimy.  To be subject to the consciousness of the populace?  Yep, victim.  Fortunately, we are at choice as to how to respond to this.  We can choose not to buy into the polarity, the judgement, the rigidity, the anger and the close mindedness.  
If you are anything like me, you might wake up some mornings just feeling wrong.  No apparent reason for it.  Just wrong.  There is a reason, it’s the group consciousness.  Here’s where we can, and should, choose differently. 
I believe we have a responsibility to choose differently.  Because to give in to the group consciousness means to accept the shit that is going on, and that I will not do.  And neither should you.  If you believe that life is meant to be lived in joy, then you will also take responsibility for being one of the hundred monkeys.  Or one of the 10%.  Do not buy into the group consciousness.  Refuse to live from a base of fear.  Instead contemplate what it could be like, feel like, to live a life based in love.  Refuse to wrap yourself in a cocoon of suspicion.  Instead, realize that all that suspicion simply shuts out any possibility of joyful living, and strive to be vulnerable.  Yes, I said vulnerable.  There is a way to be vulnerable without opening ourselves up to harm.  The vulnerability I’m speaking of is a sort of open mindedness.  A willingness to explore a different way to be, so as to experience a better life.   Refuse to judge, condemn, belittle.  Instead cultivate compassion for yourself and others.  Deny the sadness that you feel and replace it with happiness.  Refuse to judge anyone, for anything.  Refuse to shame other people.  Refuse to claim a side.  Refuse to be angry.  Refuse to be close minded.  Instead, cultivate compassion.  Nurture open mindedness.  Actively pursue an attitude of gratitude.  Explore different ways of communicating so that you can have healthy conversations with people who think differently than you do.
If enough of us do these things, we can and will change the world.  

Photo by Karen Linsley

As I anticipate and prepare for consulting with two wedding couples this afternoon, I am contemplating wholeness. The original meaning of the word sin meant to “miss the mark.” It came from archery and simply meant that the archer missed the target. The deep meaning of sin is “we made a mistake.” I like this definition. It holds me accountable and responsible, but does not shame me. When we sin, it means that we are fractured. We are not in touch with our deepest selves, and so we are much more likely to make decisions which do not serve us and take actions which tend to get us in trouble. When we are fractured we are suspicious, negative, fearful, pessimistic. When we are whole we are open-minded, positive, faith or love filled and optimistic. Wholeness essentially means we are in touch with that deepest part of ourselves, our bigger Selves, that place where our own Divinity exists within each and every one of us. When we are feeling whole, we do not sin. We make decisions and take actions which serve us.

I am reminded of that ancient Hindu legend:

“There was once a time when all human beings were gods, but they so abused their divinity that Brahma, the chief god, decided to take it away from them and hide it where it could never be found.

Where to hide their divinity was the question. So Brahma called a council of the gods to help him decide. "Let's bury it deep in the earth," said the gods. But Brahma answered, "No, that will not do because humans will dig into the earth and find it." Then the gods said, "Let's sink it in the deepest ocean." But Brahma said, "No, not there, for they will learn to dive into the ocean and will find it." Then the gods said, "Let's take it to the top of the highest mountain and hide it there." But once again Brahma replied, "No, that will not do either, because they will eventually climb every mountain and once again take up their divinity." Then the gods gave up and said, "We do not know where to hide it, because it seems that there is no place on earth or in the sea that human beings will not eventually reach."

Brahma thought for a long time and then said, "Here is what we will do. We will hide their divinity deep in the center of their own being, for humans will never think to look for it there."

All the gods agreed that this was the perfect hiding place, and the deed was done. And since that time humans have been going up and down the earth, digging, diving, climbing, and exploring--searching for something already within themselves.”

The lesson for us is not to search for wholeness, or god, outside of ourselves, but to instead go within and connect with that divinity within each and every one of us. Wholeness is the result of that connection, and it feels good.

“We find a way to choose life...”. I’m reading a book by Terry Patten called A New Republic of the Heart:  An Ethos for Revolutionaries-A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change.  Whew!  That’s a mouthful of a title isn’t it?  

I love the way books come to me.  They get recommended by friends and peers. In this case, this is a book of the month for something called The Global Vision, which is a sort of grass roots conglomeration of many Centers for Spiritual Living across the land, who all address the same topic in their Sunday services.  The idea stems from the fact that we are all part of the One, and from this reality we realize that there is a common consciousness amongst us all.  We are all connected, like a grove of aspen trees.  Did you know that when you see a grove of aspen, the root system is just one root system?  Yep.  The trees are separate and each looks different, might even change colors in the fall at different rates, but they are all part of one root system.  Damage one tree and eventually the entire grove is damaged. We are like that.  Some of us are damaged. And for the rest of us, it is up to us to address that damage and not become damaged ourselves or we risk destroying the entire human race.

Yes, I said that.  I really did.  I had to stop and take a breath after that.  You might want to as well.  

Here’s the deal:  it is time to step up and look within to see how we can assess our own damage, and repair it, not buy into the group damage and add to the overall affliction.  It is time to stop directing our attention outward.  That will not repair the damage, it will make it worse.  What do I mean by directing attention outward?  Blaming others for the mess we are in is one critical aspect of this.  Did you know that when we blame others we are, essentially, victimizing ourselves?  Another aspect of outward thinking is judgement.  This is primarily a Christian world we live in.  If you claim yourself as Christian, what part of “judge not lest ye be judged” do you not get?  Every time we judge another, we harm ourselves.  And we deny that part of us which is crying out for attention.  Think about it.  When you are judging another, you are doing one of two things:  either refusing to look at something going on in your own life, or deflecting attention away from yourself because they are doing the same things you are doing that you dislike about yourself.  Is there something other people do that you intensely hate?  Guess what.  If you spot it you got it.

Harsh words maybe.  So be it.  Folks I work with tell me that they can count on me to be honest with them.  And so can you.  

And when we are grieving life’s shit:  the losses, the changes, the stuff that we simply do not like nor care for, the stuff we really wish would not have happened, it is ever so much easier to deflect our attention outward and blame and judge than to move through the grieving process.  

And yet, when we refuse to do so, when we refuse to allow ourselves to feel the anger, the denial, the bargaining, the depression and finally, the acceptance, we deny ourselves life.  We say no.  We limit ourselves.  And we do more damage, to ourselves and to the group consciousness.  We contribute to the damage of our root system.

And in so doing this, we refuse to take responsibility for our lives.  And in doing that, we are disempowering ourselves.  

It is time to say yes.  It is time to choose life instead of death.  It is time to figure out how we as individuals can praise instead of blame, honor instead of judge, and empower ourselves instead of disempowering ourselves.  

This is not about them.  Period.  

How can we stop doing this?  Well, for starters, stop posting how they are doing it wrong on social media!  Stop posting diatribes and memes about them, whoever them might be.  Whenever you feel a need to do so, just stop.  Pause.  Go within and see what is going on with you that you would want to attack your fellow humans and instead address what needs addressing within you.  Perhaps your mom told you that if you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything.  That’s really good advice.  And while you are squirming and feeling uncomfortable because you aren’t saying anything, take a good look at that feeling of uncomfortability, because within that feeling are answers and solutions for your angst.  There is relief in there, you just have to find it.  And you won’t be able to find it unless you sit with it, allow it and say yes to it.  

Choose life.  Please.  Choose life for yourself, and for the entire human race.

A screen shot of my Kindle reader.
A screen shot of my Kindle reader.

It would help if I meditated.  Yes it would.  But writing helps too, and so I write.

What is it I need help with on this fine Saturday morning?  Nothing really.  I’m just a bit scattered.  Trying to land on something so I can concentrate enough to do what needs doing.  I’m working on a few things.  A new workshop.  A talk.  Two books.  Trying to figure out technically how to create an online self guided class (if anyone is moved to help me with this one I sure would appreciate it).  

I discovered a few daffodil plants in my yard last week, and today they are blooming!  I love the spring bulbs and will plant more of those in the fall, so that next spring I will have even more.  I could create a new version of Daffodil Hill, since weather eliminated my annual spring trip this year.

I believe I will make a batch of chili today.  Monthly pot luck is tonight and it is good chili weather.

My photo today is a screen shot of my Kindle.  Yes, I read a lot.  Most books I read all the way through, then return to them again and again for research.  Some are for pure entertainment purposes.  Those are the ones with the semi naked men on the covers.  

Today I turned to Joseph Campbell for a bit of inspiration.  He always seems to just dial it in for me.

“The world is perfect. It’s a mess. It has always been a mess. We are not going to change it. Our job is to straighten out our own lives.”  I often tell my clients that they cannot do anything about what anyone else is doing.  They usually do not want to hear that.  I don’t want to hear it.  But it is true.

“The Hoarder, the one in us that wants to keep, to hold on, must be killed. If we are hanging onto the form now, we’re not going to have the form next. You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Destruction before creation.”  Yes, we must let go of what is in order to move into our next greatest level of expression.  I’ve been using that phrase for quite some time, and just recently discovered that Joseph Campbell said something similar.  Unfortunately, it is my experience that most people would rather live with the devil they know about than move into something new.  The unknown is much scarier than the known, even if the known is shitty and the new is likely to be better.  So they stay stuck, they hoard, and fight any destruction that may be happening.  I’ve seen people do this to their death.  Literally.  Sigh. 

“Out of perfection nothing can be made. Every process involves breaking something up. The earth must be broken to bring forth life. If the seed does not die, there is no plant. Bread results from the death of wheat.”  People come to me when they are in pain, and without exception, I discover that the pain is just a symptom of a lifelong pattern.  The solution to the pain is in recognizing the pattern and then changing the pattern, from the inside out.  But most folks don’t want to do this.  They want instant gratification, a quick fix.  The idea of taking a look at the pain and the messages it has for them is not something they are even willing to consider.

“When seeking your partner, if your intuition is a virtuous one, you will find him or her. If not, you’ll keep finding the wrong person.”  I’ve often put it like this:  water seeks it’s own level, and we humans are made primarily of water.  Another thing people do not want to hear.  They would rather blame the other.

I’m reading a new book, it’s called A New Republic of the Heart.  I’m only 7% into it, and still reading about the problem.  They haven’t gotten into the solution yet.  Perhaps that is part of the reason why I’m feeling a bit pessimistic this morning and why my writing seems a bit cynical.  But I will persevere in reading this one, because I trust the folks who recommended this particular book.

And isn’t that what ultimately provides the willingness to hang out in the pain for a while, to examine it and discover the lessons it has for us?  Trust.  Or faith.  Call it what you will.  We need to trust that it will be better, or else why would we subject ourselves to this shit?  Trust or faith is one of those things I find difficult to describe. I have ultimate faith in a Power that I like to call The Force.  It is within me, a part of me.  This means I also trust my instincts, inclinations, and ideas.  It took a while to get to that point, and today, when I work with folks who simply cannot believe in a religious God, that male entity that is so separate from them as to be unreachable, and I present the idea that perhaps God is hiding in a place they would never think to look, within them, well, let’s just say the rebellion reminds me of a teenager, plotting to run away in the middle of the night because no one can tell them what to do!  They refuse to consider anything different, and they refuse to consider anything known.  They create their own stuckness.  And yet, when I speak with people about this, they remain stuck.  They refuse to consider that their stuckness is not a barrier but a cleverly concealed path to joy and freedom.  They go away, and call themselves seekers, and never find anything.  The truth is there is nothing to seek, and nothing to find, there is only our own incredible power to create.  But sometimes we misuse that power.

So it seems as if today I am inspired to be cynical.  To be pessimistic.  To be real here, I know the reason for this and it has nothing to do with the latest book I am reading.  But I can’t reveal the reason because to do so would violate the privacy of another human being.  But I have clarity now, and that helps.  On days like today, sometimes it is all we can do to acknowledge the feelings and be gentle with oneself and move on as best we can.  And when the sadness and grief give way to anger, I will do my best to not react and do something that will get me into trouble.  And when the anger gives way to acceptance and I breathe a bit easier, I will then be able to explore what lessons are in this experience, for me.  

So that is what I will do today:  notice my feelings, notice the new life in the form of the daffodils in my yard, create something new in the form of the chili, share my creation with others tonight at the potluck.  And revel in the joy that is humanity, even in the midst of strife.  And that, my friends, is what faith looks like.


In Christianity, a superficial understanding of prayer is that it is a beseeching to an outside entity.  This idea of prayer is so ingrained in our culture that even people who claim not to be Christian, who replace the word God with the word Universe, still beseech to an outside entity.  They say things like, “I’ve asked the Universe to help me with this.”  

This superficial understanding of prayer has never worked for me.  I’ve always felt “victimy” praying to an outer entity, and always felt like there was something missing with those prayers.  The reality is that prayer goes much deeper than simply asking a God separate from us to do something for us.  The reality of prayer is that it has the power to change us from the inside out, and when we change, our world changes.  

In Science of Mind, Ernest Holmes says that prayer “changes the mind of the one doing the praying.”  And in the Bible, it calls us to “pray without ceasing.”

How is one to pray without ceasing?  And what is the real power behind prayer?  I believe that prayer is a guiding light, not something to be used when we are in need.  Prayer is a way of being, not words.  The traditional way of praying is a very good start.  Now let’s take it a bit further.

If we are called to pray without ceasing, it means we are called to BE prayerful, 24/7.  Prayer, in a deeper sense than the beseeching sense, means communion.  It means connection.  I’m sure you have had times in your life when you felt disconnected.  Alone.  Lonely.  Loneliness is not about a lack of people in our lives.  It is about being and feeling disconnected from that beautiful power that exists in this world, that Power that is everywhere present.  The reality is we can not be disconnected from It, because It really is everywhere present.  We’ve just shut ourselves off from It.  

We shut ourselves off from It by judging others.  We shut ourselves off from It by hatred.  We shut ourselves off from It by putting up walls of defense.  We shut ourselves off from It by acting in ways which run counter to our deepest beliefs and values.  And when we shut ourselves off from It, It never goes away.  It just affirms our way of being, because that, in essence, is what we have been praying for.  It always says yes.  So we judge and hate and build walls and separate ourselves further from It by separating ourselves from our fellow humans.  We live in terms of us and them.  And we get lonelier, and sicker, and more and more hateful and judgmental, and we wonder how God could be doing the things he is doing?  And then we shut ourselves off from God even more because now we are mad at Him.

I am finding it necessary to take a deep breath now.  Breathe.  Breathe out that pain and misery born of ignorance, and breathe in relief, and truth, and the love of God.

Because in reality that is really what God is.  It is love.  That’s all.  But that is quite a bit.  It covers everything.  In some circles there are seven qualities,  or attributes, of Spirit that are mentioned.  Those attributes are love,  light, peace, power, joy and beauty.

I’m going to make an assumption here and assume that you believe that God is indeed everywhere present.  Another way of putting it is that there is no place where God is not.  No place.  You are here.  And if there is no place where God is not, then God is in you.  

I’m going to make another assumption and assume that you believe that the qualities of God are indeed love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.

If you believe that there is no place where God is not, and if you believe that the qualities of God are love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty, then you must also believe that YOU are made of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.   And if you believe in what the Bible says, then you believe that the way to pray is 24/7, without ceasing.  

If you believe all that, then the way to pray is to embody those qualities of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.  All day.  Every day.  As best as you can.  This is the mystical and very deep power of prayer.  When we strive to pray like this, prayer does indeed change the mind of the one doing the praying.

In Sanskrit, prayer means seeing oneself as wonderfully made.  How much more wonderful can you get than to think of yourself as the essence of love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?  

I am reminded of the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  You may know it as the 11th step prayer if you are a 12 stepper.  This prayer goes like this:  

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring love.
Where there is offense, let me bring pardon.
Where there is discord, let me bring union.
Where there is error, let me bring truth.
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith.
Where there is despair, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring your light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.
O Master, let me not seek as much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love,
for it is in giving that one receives,
it is in self-forgetting that one finds,
it is in pardoning that one is pardoned,
it is in dying that one is raised to eternal life.

The prayer begins with a beseeching to an outside entity, but then, it moves deeper.  It asks for us to become peace.  It asks for us to become love instead of hatred.  It asks for us to forgive instead of perpetuating the offense.  It asks for us to bring harmony to discord.  It asks for us to speak the truth.  What truth?  OUR truth!  This calls for an extraordinary level of self awareness, which calls for a regular practice of introspection, which is another form of prayer, and the topic of which could be another talk or blog post.  Back to the prayer.  This prayer calls us to replace our doubts with faith, our despair with hope.  It calls for us the Be the light, shining on the darkness of hatred and judgement and bigotry and shame.  It calls for us to be joyful.  It calls for us to turn away from such self centered and selfish motives as wanting consolation, understanding and love and to turn towards consoling others, loving others and understanding others.  And it tells us that when we do this, we find ourselves, our true selves.  Thus that old self, that lonely miserable old self, dies, and we reawaken to an eternal life that is filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty that we sometimes wonder about it.  How can I, a lowly human, be filled with so much love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty?

And here’s the kicker to this prayer:  it is in giving that one receives.  In Science of Mind we call this the Law of Attraction.  This law says that what we give, we receive.  I find it somewhat ironic that we are back to where we began, beseeching to an outside entity, only now we have received that which we have asked for, because we have become that which we have asked for.

So go out into the world.  BE love, light, peace, power, joy and beauty.  Every time you find yourself judging, remember.  Every time you find yourself separating yourself from the sunlight of the Spirit by building walls of us and them, tear down those walls.  Every time you find yourself hating something or someone, replace that hatred with love.  Every time you discover an example of sadness, bring some joy to it.  Every time you want to participate in feeding disharmony by choosing a side, instead seek to understand.  BE the voice and the example of Spirit in your every action and your every thought.  Allow to die a natural death pessimism and negativity, and replace that with optimism and positive thinking.  

And watch your life resurrect into something new and wonderful; and what you have prayed for manifest.

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This time of year certainly is rich in meaning isn’t it? We have spring. We have lent.

As I sit here on this rainy, snowy day, I find myself, not for the first time, wondering if spring will EVER come. And yet, I do see signs of spring: my horse is shedding his winter coat, I can hear birdsong every time I step out the door, and little green things are popping up out of the ground.

And it is March. I like to think of March as March Forward with Purpose month. It is a good intention to set at this time of year. There are both inner and outer calls for us at certain times of the year. Winter calls us to move into a quieter, less active place, one where we contemplate more and do less. Spring, on the other hand, indicates movement. This is the time when we begin to implement the ideas that came to us during winter; those ideas that we hopefully nurtured and developed.

March forward with purpose, slowly but surely and steadily!

And while we are marching forth with purpose, those of us with religious leanings are contemplating this Lenten season. What to give up for Lent? The literal of fasting usually means giving up food, or certain types of food. I prefer the metaphorical translation of Lent. This season is a good reminder to go within and discover types of thinking, or beliefs, that no longer serve us very well, and give them up, replacing them with something more productive. And because it happens every single time I mention this, I will also add that this does not mean shaming yourself for having unproductive thoughts. There is a reason they are there. The reason is not really important. What is important is to recognize that they simply don’t apply to your life anymore. Release with gratitude and love, and replace with something more productive.

I found this meme on Facebook and wanted to share it, because I think it is good advice for what to give up this season. I want to add a disclaimer here, the meme says that Pope Francis said the words. I did some research and could find no evidence that this is true. They are still good words however, and a perfect way to begin Lent.

Hopefully you will be successful at this. I’d love to hear about your journey!

What are you painting on the canvas of your life?

A year ago today I received my ordination from Centers for Spiritual Living.  It was a long road to get there:  8 years of education plus 4 years of working “in the field” after graduating with a Masters Degree in Consciousness Studies.  When I look at the photos of me in my memories feed, I see someone who looks tired.  I was doing what that lady in the commercial for anti depression meds was doing, walking around with a paper smiley face to cover up what was really going on.  I had experienced so many changes and losses in such a short time during that period of my life and I was weathering it as best as I could.  I’m strong.  That is a character asset that has served me well many times in my life, allowing me to persevere and sometimes even succeed, no matter what.  But the shadow side of that is that I became accustomed to only being able to succeed when I felt a need to be strong to stand against what life was dishing out. That is not a good way to live.  Today I’ve come out the other end of that journey.  The active grieving is done, the PTS (I refuse to call a normal reaction to shit happening a disorder) is lessening in frequency and intensity, and today I have learned that I can succeed without hardship.  I can and do succeed just because that’s the natural and normal progression of things. And today the sun is shining and it isn’t snowing, for the first time in weeks!  So today I will bundle up and venture out into the world to continue painting on the canvas of my life.  As Ernest Holmes said, “we must all become artists in living,” and today I am an artist painting a bright and glorious canvas!